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Global Social Work Programs

Office of Global Social Work Programs

Welcome to the Office of Global Social Work Programs at Rutgers School of Social Work. Our mission is to promote global citizenship and professional action among social work students, alumni, faculty and staff, and practitioners. We achieve this through education, advocacy, research, and community service locally and globally.

The Office works to bring the world into the classroom locally through global content that is infused into the curriculum as well as globally through global research, education, and service opportunities for students and faculty.

To meet our vision, we engage in a variety of activities, including:

  • Advocating for increased recognition of social work as a global profession with specialized knowledge and skills to empower individuals, families, and communities on a global scale
  • Fostering the development of global social work and international networks using technology for student and faculty learning, research, and practice
  • Expanding instructional programs and course content on topics relevant to global problems such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, disasters, gender-based violence, trafficking in persons, aging, disability, and child abuse and neglect
  • Advancing global education, research, and practice opportunities for SSW students and faculty through resource development and technical assistance
  • Fostering connections with global organizations such as the United Nations and UNICEF, international development organizations such as USAID, and foreign governments and educational institutions to advance global social work education, research, and practice
  • Advancing global initiatives within the Rutgers community through inter-professional, collaborative projects with other centers and institutes, departments, and schools

Get Involved
Support the initiatives of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance in the development of global competencies and skills for professional and paraprofessional social workers through technical assistance by faculty and students.

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Office of Global Social Work Programs has worked to expand course offerings, study abroad and global field enrichment opportunities in both direct practices and public non-profit management. 

Course offering for each semester vary, please view the schedule of classes for each semester to find the current course listings.

Three young people standing with an old stone well
Group of people outside posed in a half circle to take a photo
Three young people standing with an old stone well

Watch a recent conversation on Global Social Work and Study Abroad Opportunities

MSW Course Offering with a Focus on Global Social Work

  • Explores the ever-changing dimensions facing social workers who work with refugee and immigrant clients. The social work profession was founded on aiding social, cultural, and economic adjustment of newcomers to the United States. Topics include becoming a refugee, the international experience before arrival in the United States, the refugee experience, culture shock, cultural adjustment, post-traumatic stress, and war and refugee trauma. Special groups will be discussed, including women and children, survivors of torture, gender-based violence and victims of human trafficking, detainees, and asylum seekers. Special attention will be paid to family issues, intergroup conflict, and intergenerational issues. Post 9/11 issues facing refugees and immigrants will be discussed as well as the role that social workers play in the fight against anti-immigrant policies, sanctions, and discriminatory practices.

  • Explores global social work, past and present, and the application of social work methods (micro and macro) to vulnerable groups within today’s global context. Students learn about different social service delivery systems around the globe and initiatives aimed at developing and improving systems of care (with an emphasis on developing countries). Students have the opportunity to select a country and vulnerable group for more in-depth study. Students learn about global social work and international development career opportunities and explore their own career goals.

Global Education Opportunities

Rutgers School of Social Work offers a variety of active study abroad options through Rutgers Global.  

Explore community-based care models, and how they are addressing vulnerable populations in Romania amid a climate of social and political change.

Come learn about community-based interventions that aim to provide healthcare services and empower the vulnerable populations of sex workers and children in Sonagachi, India. 

Students learn historical and current information about populations in Puerto Rico, the country’s status as a colony of the US and the impact of colonialism on its residents, and social work education and practice models in Puerto Rico and the role of social workers within various systems, particularly within the child welfare system and nonprofit sectors. Community engaged research methods will be explored that are part of a multi-sectorial coordination effort to improve community health that affect communities in Puerto Rico.

Learn about community-based social work practices that help meet the needs of vulnerable and under served populations in Yucatán, Mexico. Hear from professional social workers and professors about the challenges and benefits of community-based approaches to empowerment and development. Engage with social workers and clients in a variety of health and social welfare settings.

Meditation and social work are two distinct but interconnected areas. Both have a role in promoting physical and mental well-being, harmonizing in diverse ways. The aims of the course are to introduce students to the development of meditation and social work in Taiwan, unveiling the intricate links between these two domains. Students will have a chance to participate in meditation practice and explore the connection between meditation and social work practice.

Publications and Press

  • The Office of Global Social Work Programs and the School of Social Work Office of Field Education have a new initiative to strengthen the link between social work with immigrants and refugees and the field of international social work. A meeting of New Brunswick leaders working to advance access to services for immigrants and refugees in the New Brunswick area was convened as a forum to discuss potential linkages between field education, social work with immigrants and refugees, and international social work.  Stronger partnerships with field agencies who serve immigrants and refugees has the potential to expand field opportunities, better utilize the knowledge and skills of agency leaders and staff as a resource for the school, and further advance social work practice with immigrants and refugees as global practice.

    Nancy Schley, Associate Director of Field Education, presented an overview of Rutgers School of Social Work and Rebecca Davis, Director of the Office, provided an overview of international social work. MSW student, Colin Liebtag presented information on the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance (GSSWA), a newly-formed organization to advance the capacity of the social service workforce on a global scale. MSW student, Laura Naughton discussed the bridge between international social work and her field work with immigrant populations. Agencies represented included established public and private social service, faith-based and mental health agencies. Executive CEOs, immigration attorneys, immigration coordinators, mental health supervisors, clinical directors, homeless outreach staff, and clergy were in attendance.

    These agencies provide field education to 30 Rutgers SSW students, with 8 students working directly with immigrants and refugees. To advance the work in this area of service, participants recommended that social work students receive specialized training in advocacy, interdisciplinary collaboration, family social work, and fundraising. There was interest in seeing the School of Social Work develop a certificate in social work with immigrants and refugees as a part of global social work practice. 

  • The purpose of this study is to inform stakeholders about the current status of social work in the region, describe the practice environment, identify gaps between what is expected of social workers and reality, provide examples of best practices, and make recommendations for furthering the development of social work in the region.  The target countries for this study are: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

    View full report

  • The purpose of this study is to inform stakeholders about the opportunities for and constraints on building the social work workforce within the child welfare sector in Africa. For the purpose of this study, the social work workforce means all types of people who work in the public and nongovernmental sectors on behalf of highly vulnerable children. This assessment is based on international standards for family-centered practice and social work skills for frontline workers (interviewing, assessment, care-planning, psychosocial support); child protection workers (risk assessment, family reunification, and foster and adoption services); and supervisors and managers (mentoring, program planning, human resource management, monitoring and evaluation [M&E], and budgeting). Based on the demonstrated linkage between a well-performing child welfare sector and a competent social work profession, the assessment considers both the child protection sector, professional education institutions and associations, and the local and national practice environments.

    View video presentation

  • Postmus, J. L., Hoge, G. L., Davis, R., Johnson, L., Koechlein, E., Winter, S. (2016). Examining gender based violence and abuse among school students in four counties in Liberia: An exploratory study. Child Abuse & Neglect

    Greenfield, E. A., Davis, R. T., & Fedor, J. P. (2012).  The effect of international social work education: Study abroad versus on-campus courses. Journal of Social Work  Education, 48 (4),  739-761.

  • Davis, R. T. & Kurtishi, S.  (2016, September).  Magomero College Social Work Diploma and Certificate Curriculum and the Costed Delivery System. A curriculum developed for the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare in Malawi. Lilongwe, Malawi:  UNICEF/Malawi.

    Davis, R. T. & Simmel, C.  (2014, July).  Case management toolkit: A user’s guide for strengthening case management services in child welfare. A toolkit developed for the Europe and Eurasia Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/E&E/DGST) for Aguirre Division of JBS International, Inc. Retrieved from

    McCaffery, J., Davis, R. & Conticini, A. (2012).  Strengthening child protection systems in Sub Saharan Africa:  A working paper.  A publication commissioned by UNICEF in collaboration with the Inter Agency Child Protection Working Group. Retrieved from

Student Experience

"This trip allowed me to be a participant instead of an observer. I was inspired by the wonderful people I met, the places I visited and the feeling of pride I felt as a social worker."

- Stephanie Kramer

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Contact Us

Learn more about the Office of Global Social Work and our study abroad options.

Rebecca Davis

Rebecca T. Davis

Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Director, Office of Global Social Work Programs